Julaine Appling's KGB Connection

Julaine Appling's KGB Connection
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Family Action

Mention the initials "KGB" to a Green Bay Packers fan and they'll immediately know who you mean: Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, the defensive standout who set the Packers' team record of 74.5 career sacks over nine seasons before retiring in 2008.

But his gridiron achievements are just part of his story—and not the most interesting part.

Raised Sunni Muslim, he became a Christian his rookie year in the NFL, influenced by his future wife, Eileen. Raised without a strong sense of patriotism, he came to love the United States dearly.

"I'll be honest, being an African American guy growing up in South Central Los Angeles, I wasn't proud to be an American," Gbaja-Biamila tells Citizen. "I wasn't anti-American. I was just neutral."

Then he saw David Barton's American Heritage video series, which focused on the role Christian faith played in the nation's history. He took an interest in national issues, and became a regular consumer of news from Focus on the Family and CitizenLink.

And that's how he got to know Julaine Appling. She's invited him to WFA events and appeared with him at pro-life and pro-family gatherings. And he's even invited her into his family's home—along with 40 other people who came to hear her speak.

"Some of us from church had been watching the American Heritage series and they were moved," Gbaja-Biamila says. "They said, 'What can we do? We want to do something.' And I said, 'I have a friend named Julaine Appling. Let me bring you here and she can tell you more.' She came in and began educating and equipping us to get involved in elections and issues.

"I've used her a lot," he chuckles. "I hope I don't bug her too much."

Hardly, Appling says. "Kabeer is a friend and a brother in Christ," she tells Citizen. "KGB and his lovely wife Eileen and their seven children are state treasures. How many former NFL players do you think have 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord' over the main entrance to their home?"

Gbaja-Biamila says his passion to make a difference—and to get more members of the church to do the same—isn't going away.

"On one level, I don't want to do it; I want to be with my family," he says. "But if we don't do it, other people will, and they'll turn this country upside down and leave something very foreign to our children.

"The people who came over here to start this nation with God's blessings, they sacrificed everything. We'"re here already. All we have to do is to maintain what they gave us—to rebuild the walls."

© 2015 Focus on the Family. Originally published in the June, 2015 issue of Citizen magazine.